Working with Joan Campbell at Bathers Beach. 1988-1990

Warrick Palmateer

1988 was a year of milestones – I turned 18, graduated from Perth Technical College with an Advanced Diploma in Studio Ceramics and had the good fortune to meet world renowned Fremantle potter Joan Campbell. Joan offered me a position working in her Bathers Beach Studio and during the 18 months we worked together I was involved with the creation of high-end, ceramic art pieces. Under Joan’s mentorship I was encouraged to throw large scale pieces that were incorporated into her sculptural ceramic forms and together we designed and created large scale commissions for both public and private installations. The studio was a mecca for potters travelling to Western Australia from all parts of the world and I was privileged to meet many highly regarded potters and artists who visited Joan while I was working at Bathers Beach.

I left Joan’s studio in 1990 to travel around Australia and worked in South Australia as a production potter at a large pottery called Aiston Park Pottery.  Several years after my return to Western Australia Joan was diagnosed with terminal cancer and she asked if I would work with Ian Dowling from the Margaret River Pottery to complete what were to become her final pieces. Ian had been a trainee with Joan in the l970s and together, under Joan’s instruction, we glazed and fired her incredible ceramic forms that were shown at the Lawrence Wilson Gallery in an exhibition titled Crescendo in April 1997. Joan passed away peacefully in her Fremantle home on March 5th 1997 about a month before the opening of the exhibition.

It was an honour to be asked by Joan to work with Ian to complete the pieces for her final exhibition. She was both a mentor and a great friend whose aesthetic of drawing from the landscape for inspiration and her beautiful sense of form and texture are a wonderful legacy that has underpinned my thirty-year career as a potter.


Written by

Warrick Palmateer